Treasure hunt gives unique spin to Year of the Rat
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More than 1,000 people turned out for San Francisco’s annual Chinese New Year Treasure Hunt Saturday Feb. 23, despite the downpour of rain. The treasure hunt, put on by SF Treasure Hunts and led by Private Investigator Jayson Wechter, is the country’s largest and most popular hunt of its kind.

“[Chinese New Year] is when the city is transformed into a very joyous party full of lights, sounds, it’s very evocative of its history,” Wechter explained. “It just transforms the downtown area and makes it more pedestrian friendly. It promotes a great backdrop for this game of urban exploration.”

The treasure hunt combines elements of film noir with Chinese New Year themes. Many participants dressed in rodent-themed costumes for 2008’s year of the rat.

Hunting teams roam the streets for puzzle solutions in abandoned alleyways, famous landmarks, and overlooked spots in Chinatown, North Beach, and Telegraph Hill, coinciding with the Chinese New Year parade. The popular event provides a unique approach and experience of San Francisco.

“We really wanted to come out here and get a feel for the city and learn about the history and the culture,” says William Friend, a first-time treasure hunter.

“We drove from Chico,” adds Kimberly Troth.

The evening’s rain was an added obstacle for hunters, who wound up and down the city’s hills on foot. The showers hardly dampened spirits.

“This is like my Christmas, it’s my favorite day of the year,” gushes Brigid Martin, a third-year treasure hunter.

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